Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Being a Dog - a review - 4.19.22

Want a story that will draw readers in?  Just find a good dog story!  But this new dog story is more than just that.  It's a love letter to dogs and the way that they go through life, just BE-ing!  It's a book about mindfulness and reminding ourselves that it's important to just BE.

Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness
Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness
written by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Pete Oswald
published by HarperCollins

The story opens up with the reminder that dogs just live their lives.  They go through their day just being a dog.  Whether it's stretching, or eating, or playing, they go through their day, enjoying it.  Whether it's nice weather or wet weather or snowy weather.  As we go through the book, readers understand that dogs have emotions too and when they feel them, they show them.  Especially when they are happy.  Sometimes they use their whole body to show that!  

What a beautiful metaphor to talk through with young readers.  Think about the mindfulness in the life of a dog and how can that be important to their own lives?  How can they just BE and what lessons can we learn from the dogs in the story?  It's a powerful idea when you dig deep and think about it.  I know I definitely need reminders to BE instead of always thinking about the next things on my list!

I really love the mindfulness ideas included in the backmatter.  Tips to help us be mindful, no matter what the season is!  Dogs don't worry about the seasons, they find ways to just BE any time of year!  

Now, this book could not just be written by anyone, it has to be someone who has had many dogs to love.  Someone who knows just how dogs can BE and loves their dog for those reasons.  I asked author Maria Gianferrari to tell us more about one of her beloved dogs, Becca.  Thanks for stopping by, Maria!  Take it away!

My late, very beloved and much missed rescue dog, Becca, was the inspiration for Being a Dog and for all of my canine “tails.” The Penny & Jelly books were based on her bond with our daughter, Anya—Becca was like her dog sister, since Anya’s an only child. I call this the “best friends” photo (Anya was 6, and Becca was 1). Becca’s initial separation anxiety led to the structure of Hello Goodbye Dog, and Operation Rescue Dog was loosely based on her own transportation rescue story.

Becca was my furry, faithful friend and writing companion. I am so grateful to have had her as a family member for almost 14 years. Not surprisingly, when Becca died in November 2019, I was devastated and deeply depressed for a couple of months. I couldn’t work, and I cried all the time—her absence was so present and palpable. When I finally sat down to write again, I wanted to feel all of the joy and calm and love that I felt in her presence. I got to thinking about how dogs live in the moment, and what we as humans can learn from that.

I love the Ted Lasso quote, “Living in the moment is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” Writing
Being a Dog, being present, reliving those times, helped me to find joy again. I think of the book as Becca’s gift to me, because it was one of those rare books that wrote itself and flowed out, and that doesn’t happen very often. But when we’re open to things, magic happens.

And now I get to “be a dog” with our new rescue mutt, Maple.

Thank you, Maria, for sharing this very special story!

More about author Maria Gianferrari:
Maria Gianferrari is a community scientist, self-taught naturalist, and bird nerd who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English. She is the author of narrative nonfiction picture books which celebrate urban ecosystems, the natural world and our wild neighbors. She also writes engaging expository nonfiction. And as a lover of dogs, Maria’s fiction picture books star dogs as main characters and explore the human-canine bond. She writes from her light-filled, book-lined study in Massachusetts with rescue dog, Maple at her side.

Be sure to find your copy of this special book today! Want to try your luck and win a copy? Maria and HarperCollins are generously giving away a copy of the book to a blog reader (US residents only). Enter below and a winner will be selected on Tuesday, April 26th.


  1. As a dog walker this story is appealing and a great reminder to just BE.

  2. I love this book and this interview! Thank you!

  3. Maria and Michelle, thank you so much for this excellent post! Like BEING A DOG, it's filled with heart.